The first visit to your veterinarian is extremely important in the life of your new puppy or kitten. It is a chance to start a lifelong relationship with your veterinarian that will help insure the health and well being for your new family member.
The physical exam is the most important part of the puppy or kittens first visit. Your veterinarian will perform an in depth exam which includes every body system. This initial exam sets a baseline for your pet. It can also help find problems. The earlier they are detected, the earlier steps can be taken to correct them.
Your veterinarian will want you to bring a stool specimen in to examine it for parasites. These parasites can cause serious health problems for you and your pet. The results of the intestinal parasite screen will assist your veterinarian in advising you on a course of action to eliminate health risks posed by these parasites. However, since no test is 100% accurate he or she may still advise worming as a precaution.
If your pet is a kitten you will also want to have a Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and a Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) test performed. These are feline retro viruses that share some similarities to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Therefore, they can have significant health consequences for your cat, but the good news is that they can’t be spread to humans.
If your puppy is older than six months of age your veterinarian may suggest a heartworm test. Heart worm tests check for proteins to adult heartworms, it takes six months from the time that your puppy becomes infested with heartworm larvae to the time the that the adult worms develop. Therefore testing puppies younger than six months of age doesn’t make sense.
I start vaccinations at eight weeks of age for both puppies and kittens and we boost vaccines every four weeks usually for a total of three visits. Vaccination protocols vary from region to region and depending on the lifestyle of individual pets. Your veterinarian can best advise you on what protocol best fits your pet.
Neutering your pet is another topic that you should discuss with your family veterinarian on your first visit. Every pet that is not going to be used for breeding purposes will need to be neutered in my opinion. The timing of the procedure also varies and no single protocol is currently universally accepted. Consult your veterinarian for his or her recommendation.
Discussing obedience training is critically important for all puppies. In my opinion all dogs need obedience training no matter their breed, size, or temperament. Having a well trained dog will help in many ways. They are more pleasant to be around, with less jumping barking and chewing. They are also easier to confine and give nursing care to if they are injured.
A new puppy or kitten can be a great enhancement to your family. Make sure that you start off on the right foot so that you will be able to enjoy their companionship for many years to come.